By Thomas Gibbons
It has been a hard day.
Basketball fans and the NBA community around the world have mourned the loss of one of the greatest players to ever step on the hardwood in Kobe Bryant. But through all the sadness and reflection, we knew how great of a player he was but we would come to find out how great of a person, a father, a mentor he became.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant, along with seven others, died in a helicopter crash Sunday afternoon. The initial reports made you read it twice, maybe three times to make sure you were not crazy. Please, please be fake was echoed among fans. Sadly, it was far from a fake headline. The world was in shock. Bryant had a global affect because of his game, his brand, and his impact on so many people’s lives.
The out-poor of sadness and prayer flooded social media and television hours after the report of Bryant’s passing. Known as the Black Mamba, Bryant was coined with this “Mamba Mentality” that he had on and off the court. It has become a brand and apart of his legacy.
It is still hard to believe that Bryant is gone. Bryant joined the NBA out of high school and the rest is history. His dominance on the court will never be replicated and his impact on the game is something nobody saw coming from a kid from Lower Marion High School in Pennsylvania.
The Chicago Bulls will honor Bryant in someway Monday night at the United Center. Fans have already started to pay tribute to Bryant outside of the arena.
The United Center video boards outside of the arena have had images of Bryant up since yesterday.
Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson released a statement on the Chicago Bulls behalf Sunday night.
Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau spoke with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago and offered reflection on Bryant.
“He was so into it. You could hear it. He was such a doting father,” Thibodeau said. “And that’s the thing: He excelled at everything. He wanted to be great at everything. It didn’t matter what it was, whether it was being a father, being a husband.-Thibodeau on Bryant
Michael Jordan released a statement on the lifelong Laker.
Former Bull and current ambassador Scottie Pippen took to Twitter to share a few thoughts. He posted a great thread.
On Monday, the Bulls gathered to prepare for Monday night’s game against the Spurs and to discuss the death of Bryant.
Monday night at the United Center will not just be another regular season game. It will be filled with a lot of emotion, sadness, and tributes for one of the greatest players to ever lace ’em up. On Sunday, we saw a lot of emotion throughout the league from players, fans, and coaches as they heard the news about Bryant. The NBA is a fraternity, a brotherhood of some sorts. It hurt everyone playing, watching, and those behind the microphone. And it was not the end of it. We are going to mourn Kobe’s passing for the days and months ahead because his impact was that strong.
“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” -#24